Telling people how to make video games is easy enough. It’s not as simple as reading a book and putting your mind to it, or using the plethora of free tools available on the internet, as you may have thought.
And that’s a fair point. Your own exposure to games might be a barrier; or, it might be your biggest advantage. But how do you really get going? How do you take your idea and your tools and turn it into an interactive experience?
I guess it's time I put my money where my mouth is. Over the next week I will be participating in a game jam, which is exactly what it sounds like: people coming together to create a game in a short period of time. While most jams are only two days long, the whole point of the Kill Screen / Ouya CREATE game jam, which I'm diving into headfirst, is to rapidly prototype a videogame for the upcoming Ouya system. You should read about the jam if you’re interested in participating too.
This is a videogame garage band on a mission from God
Wihout further ado, then, meet my crew. They come from vastly different backgrounds. This is a group of very talented artists and programmers who have never made a game together--or for some, who have never made a game, period. We have various degrees of experience within games, but over the next week we’ll take an idea and give it sound and vision, with the skeletal mechanics and structure to stand on. We’ll craft a playable game in a short period of time.
THE LINE UP
First up, we have Dylan McKenzie, who will be our liaison between design and code, helping us learn the tools we aren’t familiar with while coding and managing the game files himself. Dylan is an NYU grad and now works there as the program coordinator for the game design program at the NYU Game Center. He is also working on picking up a master's degree there to continue his work in the study of games. He grew up outside of Buffalo, where he often returns in secret, because he and his dad are secretly racecar drivers.
Heewa Barfchin will be programming the game with us. He came to New York to work for Chartbeat, where he watched the company grow tenfold. He has just returned to the city after a three month worldwide journey, traveling from Europe to Japan and back again. Born in Iran, he made his way stateside by way of Sweden. He’s not had a lot of experience making games, though he once interned for Microsoft Game Studios. He is also a retired smuggler.
Joining us via satellite from Chicago is Max Perenchio, guitar impresario and rock and roll demiurge. Max is a good friend of mine from college. One day we were playing Sega Genesis in his dorm room, and the next Max was spirited away on a surreal career that has taken him around the world to play music. He has opened for living legends like the Smashing Pumpkins and KISS in his old band Bad City. It has been said that Paul Stanley has listened to Max shred, on his headphones, on repeat, for months in sequence. According to legend, Max has made several pacts with the devil and subsequently broken them. He is currently working on a new band, The Gold Web.
Last and least, I will be acting as creative director, bringing the visuals, story, and characters into the game while coordinating with the rest of the team. I’ll also be chronicling our progress here on Motherboard. I came from a graphic design background, somehow tricked everyone into letting me make videogames at Rockstar Games, and then I left big industry to work on independent projects, often with my friends at Babycastles. One of my projects I've been working on, Gameifesto, is an online matchmaking network that brings people together for the purpose of making games.
Gameifesto breaks aspiring devs into role categories like so
While game jams are a great way to get your game dev feet wet, you might be in isolation, never realizing that there are people who you’d want to make games with in your town. Gameifesto is about bringing whatever talents you have to the table. I think a lot of us have a dismissive attitude about what we’re capable of.
I hope you see this experiment for what it is: four unqualified people who simply refuse to say “Oh, I could never do something like that.” We’re just a mongrel team of creatives who came together to make something for fun. So go start your own garage game and stay tuned here to watch ours come together.
Illustration by Colin Snyder. Follow Colin at @scollpdelion.